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Seasoned Wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by searay220, Dec 18, 2008.

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  1. searay220

    searay220 New Member

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    When does firewood begin to "season"? Is it when the tree is downed, or cut into log lenght,or split or split stacked and covered? And what time frame are we talking about being "seasoned" I always thought it was about a year? Could anybody clear this up?

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  2. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    do a search on 'seasoned' and 'moisture meter'
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Lots of variables depending on the species, when it's cut, relative humidity, how and where it's stacked, etc.
  4. Adabiviak

    Adabiviak Feeling the Heat

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    I think technically wood begins to season once the tree dies or is cut down (whichever happens first). As soon as more moisture is leaving the tree than is entering, it's seasoning. As was mentioned above, the variables that account for this are too numerous to answer that question with a single answer.
  5. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    If you need seasoned wood to heat your home...it doesn't start to season till it's cut and split. Why make it harder than it is? You shouldn't depend on exceptions to the rule to keep your family warm...that's gambling.
  6. WOODBUTCHER

    WOODBUTCHER Minister of Fire

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    "Seasoned" or "dry" to me is split and stacked for at least a year.
    BaGreen has noted some input also.
    In a pinch some species you can get by with a shorter term (ash)
    Oak is last wood you wanna gamble with, I call white oak "steam wood"

    WoodButcher
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    "Begin" to season makes the entire question very easy. It "begins" to season once the tree is cut. However, how long it takes to season is a very different question.

    For firewood, you can use the rule of thumb that it really doesn't season until it is cut into firewood lengths. Then it depends upon the size of the log. If you burn 4-6" pieces unsplit, then nothing much more can be done to the log except for stacking into sunlight and wind. Over that size then it needs to be split in order to season.

    Different wood takes different times to season. Compare red oak to white ash! Huge difference. But most wood (not all) should be ready within a year.

    Compare relative humidity in the area where you are. If I lived in the Pacific NW I would treat my wood pile much differently than I do now.

    This is how we do it:

    Cut wood during winter (now). Wait until Spring to split (when it is muddy in the woods and sap is beginning to go up). Split wood in March, get it stacked then forget about it.

    If we have a very wet fall, then we will cover the wood then; top of the pile only. Otherwise we'll wait until snow flies before covering the top only. (Covering top only allows for more evaporation of moisture vs. covering the entire pile.) Then forget that wood for a couple of years before burning it.

    At present we are cutting wood (allbeit slowly) and have almost enough for another year. Before we are done, we hope to have enough wood to go through the year 2015 or 2016. This way we do not have to worry about moisture in the wood and it is like having money in the bank. If something happens and we can't cut some winter we do not worry about the next year's wood supply as we already have plenty on hand. If we can't cut for 2 or 3 winters, same thing.

    It is called being prepared.
  8. Valhalla

    Valhalla Minister of Fire

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    Beginning with green, dead or even downfalls, the cutting, splitting, stacking, and then covering are all important elements of the seasoned wood process.
  9. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    Most of my wood is from trees that were downed in the fall and split in the spring for burning that winter and it seasons just fine. I don't have any slow drying wood such as oak though. If I did, I'd put it aside and let it dry longer. I think exposure to full sun and good air flow is important when stacking wood to be sasoned. We've had a couple of really dry summers and I think that it's made a big difference in getting the wood seasoned.
    I'm into some Cherry right now that was down for about 2 years and split in August. It seems to be as dry if not dryer than the rest of my wood. If we'd had a wet summer, I doubt that I'd be burning it. As BeGreen said, there are a lot of variables.
  10. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    if you have oak cut splits smaller and you can/ should be able to burn in 1yr or even little less
  11. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, this question is relative. I've come to realize my Oslo is happiest with wood that has been split and stacked in the wind and sun for at LEAST a year.
  12. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    As soon as it's dead.
  13. stoney28

    stoney28 Member

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    My dealer said that you could cut wood in the spring and by fall it should be seasoned. This doesn't sound realistic to me.

    Lets say I've got maple, how long does it need to be sitting split and stacked in the sun and wind to be ready for a gasifier (ballpark figure)?
  14. Shipper50

    Shipper50 Minister of Fire

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    I cant comment on a gasifier, but I bought white oak, black cherry, from a local farmer and his son that they cut the wood this past winter and early spring.

    They leave their splits big as they have a outdoor furnace. I re-split every piece and stacked it this past Sept. and now am burning it in my indoor furnace and keeping the house in the 68-72 area. I took a reading of the wood and its in the 18-22% moisture area. So from my experience this fall and winter so far, you can have seasoned wood in one year or less depending on where and how you stack it.

    Shipper
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I rarely cut any wood in the spring, but cutting during the winter, before the sap comes up, wood will cure over the summer. If you wait until the tree is full of sap you might be pressing the issue but it is possible under the right conditions. Mother Nature has something to say about it all.
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I buy Winter cut wood both because of the low sap content and because they are a lot cleaner, not having been dragged through the mud. I also like to do my bucking in the Winter cuz I hate to sweat and the rounds get a good early start on drying. I do baby my splitter though and won't fire it up until it is a little warmer out.
  17. stoney28

    stoney28 Member

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    Thanks for the help guys.
  18. stoney28

    stoney28 Member

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    Thanks for the help guys. I really appreciate it.
  19. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    once a tree is dead it starts to season. Some people say it won't season unless it is cut and split. I disagree. I think it does season, just not as well.

    I think that we often use the term "seasoned" to imply "Fully Seasoned". if you buy some wood that your dealer calls seasoned you assume that they mean fully seasoned. It's not a lie to call 1 month old splits of wood "seasoned," but it is misleading. I consider it to be the difference between meat that is rare, medium-rare, on up to well-done. They are all cooked, just to different levels of cooked-ness (lol).
  20. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    With old fireplaces we've gotten used to looking for 'seasoned' wood. Then we got these fancy epa stoves and wonder why 'seasoned' wood doesn't burn very good in them. I've quit looking for seasoned wood and start looking for the word DRY. If you buy wood that's seasoned then you are buying something that's up to interpretation and mostly to the side of the person selling the wood. I guess technically seasoned does mean that the tree has been cut. But when someone is selling dry wood then you can ask how dry. You can put a number on it and test to see if it's the number % and decide to get it or not. Y'all are right though, there is no technicality out of it. If your wood isn't dry then you will have problems with getting the temp up and smoke. It's amazing the difference burning 20% compared to 30%. The 30% will get up to 500* or so and burn, but with smoke. The 20% stuff is 650* or so and that's with primary almost completely closed with no smoke at all. It's hard to wrap your mind around. You think the wood is seasoned enough. It even knocks hollow. I've got a whole face cord of this stuff that's been down for 3+ years and it's 40%. I would have sworn that it was seasoned and ready to burn. It burns slow and smokey without foaming or hissing. You'd think there was a problem with the stove. Maybe about February it will be dry. So look for dry wood. If it's dry then it will be seasoned. Splitting hairs won't make your fire hotter or help make your stove more efficient. It'll just make you frustrated in the end.
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